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updated: 8/16/2013 11:13 AM

District 214 approves tentative budget for 2013-2014

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The Northwest Suburban High School District 214 school board approved a tentative, balanced budget for 2013-2014 at Thursday's meeting.

The total operating and working cash budget approved was $239.7 million, up slightly from $232 million in the 2012-2013 tentative budget. Superintendent David Schuler said he was pleased with another year of balanced budgets for the district, which has been awarded numerous financial reporting awards.

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The largest expenditure for the year will be employee salaries and benefits, which make up about 78 percent of the budget.

Cathy Johnson, associate superintendent for finance and operations, said the district is expecting a 2.3 percent increase in state aid but a 2.6 percent decrease in federal aid. Government money, however, makes up a small portion of the district's revenues.

Property taxes make up 81.1 percent of the revenue the district expects to bring in next year, according to the tentative budget.

"We're lucky we have tremendous support from our community and that they feel schools are important," board member Dan Petro said. "We're still doing something that Springfield's not doing, we're living within our means."

The board discussed a number of unfunded mandates and how much they have cost the district over the past four years.

Johnson estimated the district has lost $78 million dollars in unfunded special education mandates over the past four years, $1.8 million in general state aid and $400,000 in transportation in that same time period.

She said additional fees from the Affordable Care Act, parts of which will be implemented in the next year, will cost the district another $350,000.

"Then there's the pension question, which we have no ability to tax for, but it seems pretty inherent that we're going to have more expenses," Johnson said.

The tentative budget will be posted online Monday and the board will hold a public hearing on it during its meeting Sept. 26 before voting on the final budget.

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